KSP: Investigators determine cause of fatal fire in Muhlenberg C - WDRB 41 Louisville News

KSP: Investigators determine cause of fatal fire in Muhlenberg County

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Courtesy: Calvary Baptist Church Central City, Ky. (Facebook page) Courtesy: Calvary Baptist Church Central City, Ky. (Facebook page)
Image Courtesy: Pam Burden  / Facebook Image Courtesy: Pam Burden / Facebook
Image Courtesy: Pam Burden  / Facebook Image Courtesy: Pam Burden / Facebook

DEPOY, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky State Police say they now know the cause of a tragic house fire that killed nine people in Muhlenberg County.

"Investigators with the Kentucky State Police and the State Fire Marshals' Office have ruled this fire accidental," a news release states. "It appears that an electric baseboard heater located in a bedroom ignited some nearby combustibles. At this hour, authorities are still investigating the structure fire."

Authorities say 11 family members were in the home when the house caught fire early Thursday morning.

Trooper Stu Recke said the father and daughter who survived are at a hospital in Nashville, Tenn. Officials say 36-year-old Chad Watson is in critical but stable condition and 11-year-old Kylie Watson is in stable condition.

Chad Watson's wife and eight of their children perished in the fire. Their names are listed below:

LaRae "Nikki" Watson, 35
Madison, 15
Kaitlyn, 14
Morgan,13
Emily, 9
Samuel, 8
Raegan, 6
Mark and Nathaniel (twins), 4

Officials tell us eight victims were found in the master bedroom, and one victim was found about 10 to 15 feet away. It is believed they were trying to escape from a window.

The family was very involved in a local church, Calvary Baptist Church Central City, Ky.

"Getting that phone call this morning, was just a total shock and words could not come. We were basically at that point devastated," said pastor Tim Burden.

Burden says Chad and LaRae met at the church at a young age. He says family members are thankful for the community support.

"It's been an overwhelming response in Muhlenberg County and the town, and we're just thankful that the county is pulling together for this family," Burden said.

The church is holding a candlelight prayer service Friday at 7 p.m. central time.

Burden spent most of the day visiting the surviving family members at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville.

"They're sedated and they're stable and they're expected to make a full recovery and we're thankful for that." 

Earlier Thursday, Burden told WDRB over the phone that the father, Chad Watson, went in several times to try and save his family.

"He got [Kylie] out and he went in so many different times he got quite a bit of smoke in his lungs," Burden said.

"He told another family member that his family was in the hands of the loving God, and he was aware of what happened."

Fire officials say the house went up in flames quickly, and was fully engulfed by the time firefighters arrived.

Trooper Recke says the fire was reported around 2 a.m. central time Thursday. Despite the rural location, firefighters arrived within 15 minutes and had access to hydrants.

"They were here within a matter of moments," Recke said, "and got it contained rather quickly. They didn't have any problems getting to it, and water was not a problem for them."

Depoy is about 130 miles southwest of Louisville.

Pastor Burden says the family did not have homeowners or life insurance.

Those interested in donating to the Watson family have three options:

1. Old National Bank -- "Calvary Baptist Church Watson Family"

2. First Kentucky Bank -- "Watson Family Memorial Fund"

3. Commonwealth Community Bank -- "Calvary Baptist Church Watson Family Fund"

On Thursday afternoon, Randy McCarty, superintendent of Muhlenberg County Schools, issued a written statement about the tragedy:

Staff, 

Our community has suffered a terrible loss due to a house fire this morning.  Grief counselors are at schools that the children attended to help with this situation.  This loss has affected staff and students alike.  We want all to know that we are here for them and their needs at this time of loss. 

We can confirm the following additional information received from the Muhlenberg County Coroner's office:  

The Muhlenberg County Coroner's office has confirmed there were nine people missing and six have been located as the result of an early morning house fire. No identification has been made at this time. Two people were transported to the hospital early this morning."

Copyright 2014 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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